Durability of Immune Response after Application of a Third Dose of SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination in Liver Transplant Recipients

Immunogenicity after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination is known to be impaired in liver transplant (LT) recipients, but the results after the application of a third dose show significant improvement in seroconversion rates. In the general population, the antibody response wanes over the course of time after two doses of the vaccination, but seems to be more robust after the application of three doses. Still, the durability of the antibody response in LT recipients who receive a third dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination has not been analyzed yet. We therefore assessed antibody responses in a total of 300 LT recipients and observed antibody titers for six months each after patients had received the second and the third doses of the vaccination, explicitly excluding all patients who had suffered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. The initial antibody response was compared to a control group of 122 healthcare workers. After the application of two doses of the vaccination, 74% of LT recipients (158 out of 213) developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2; this result depended significantly on whether the patients were taking the medication mycophenolate mofetil, and on the age of the patients. Antibody titers declined significantly within six months from 407 BAU/mL (IQR: 0–1865) to 105 BAU/mL (IQR: 0–145) (p ≤ 0.001), but increased after the application of the third vaccine dose in 92% of patients (105 out of 114), showing an antibody response (p ≤ 0.001). After a further six-month period, despite showing a decline from 2055 BAU/mL (IQR: 500 to >2080) to 1805 BAU/mL (IQR: 517 to >2080), the waning of antibody titers was not significant (p = 0.706), and antibody durability appeared to be more robust than that after the second dose. In conclusion, our study confirms the high efficacy of the application of a third dose of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in LT recipients, and a reasonably sustained humoral response with superior durability in comparison to antibody kinetics after the application of the second dose of the vaccination.


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